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Smart Comic Reader - Automatically zoom in on panels

Forums > App Announcements

Hey everyone!

I just released my very first app on the App Store. I started iOS development more than a year ago because it's something I always wanted to do. My only app idea was a bit of an ambitious one and I had to learn a lot from scratch. Swift, iOS, ML... That's why it took a long time, but it's finally here. Now comes the even harder part of trying to find users for it 😬.

The app is called Smart Comic Reader and the Smart part refers to its ability to automatically detect panels in a comic, then zoom in on it and move between them. The idea grew out of my frustration with reading comics on my phone that were not optimized for a small screen like that. You can import any comic in the most common formats you can find them in: cbz, cbr and pdf. Then just open it, double tap on the first panel and start reading. By tapping the sides you can move to the next panel.

Because I'm using Core ML, the panels do not have to have well-defined edges to be detected or anything. I tested it with a lot of comics that are really all over the place with their art style and how they display panels. I'm amazed myself sometimes with how much it gets right. Of course, it can never be perfect, but the app is designed to always keep the user in control. It intentionally doesn't cut the panels out so you can always manually pan and zoom if needed (which really might be very rare, depending on the comic).

For now I'm keeping it free, trying to get a user base going. I want to make it a payed app later, although that's a hard sell these days. Another option is that I'll add some pro features later (but I'll have to figure out what those would be).

Here is the App Store link, if you'd like to check it out: App Store Link

I also made a nifty website (thanks emilbaehr for getting me started with a template): smartcomicreader.com

If you don't own any comics to try it out with, here is a free one. It's a cbz version of David Revoy's webcomic Pepper&Carrot and it's licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0, so I'm happily using it to promote my app: Pepper&Carrot

Let me know what you think and what could be improved, I would love to know.

Automatically detect panels! Zoom in with one touch!

   

I am not into comics but this is super cool idea and practical use of Core ML! Awesome.

How was your experience preparing the Core ML model? Can you share how did you train it to recognize the panes? Thanks.

   

Thanks Filip!

Because I needed data to train on and I also needed practice with iOS development, I thought it would be a nice idea to first build an app that could help me gather and annotate data (this was previous year June). So I built an iOS app that automatically downloads comic pages from the internet and lets you draw boxes on them to highlight the panels. Then I spent many hours annotating pages, careful to take regular breaks because it's easy to get shoulder pains and other strain injuries. I also sent the app to other people who helped me out a lot.

For the training part, I first did an ML course on coursera. I didn't use much of it in practice, but it's nice to have some theoretical background knowledge, I guess. I got a first ok-ish model running with TuriCreate pretty fast, so that was a great motivator. After that it was just experimentation, patience, research, more experimentation.

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Hi again,

just occurred to me that I could add banner for your app to my blog if you are interested. :-) It is not the most read blog around but I think some articles are pretty popular thanks to iOS Dev Weekly feature.

   

Loving the app so far! I would love to be able to import via OPDS, or even sync with Ubooquity. And folder organization, using images rather than just text for titles, would be fantastic to see. I would happily pay a flat fee for all of those features (plus the amazing panels viewer work so far) but I do loathe subscription costs.

   

Hey, thanks.

I didn't see your reply for a while, better to email me for feature requests :)

Alternative data sources like Ubooquity are definitely on the planning. This is almost certainly going to be a pro feature through in-app purchase. I'm not planning on doing any subscriptions.

   

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